May it Please the Palate: "Aloo Gobi, inspired by 70's music"

A good writer introduces two disconnected topics, and ties them together in a remarkable denouement. Not me. I simply write about two disconnected topics.

Today it's Aloo Gobi, and 70's music.

It started with cauliflower. One of my favorite winter vegetables. What can I do with this puppy? My mind went to Aloo Gobi, a classic Indian dish. Plus it's so fun to say "Aloo Gobi." In the movie "Bend It Like Beckham," the rebellious daughter Jess does not want to cook Aloo Gobi like a perfect Indian daughter; she wants to play soccer. She tells her mother, "Anyone can cook Aloo Gobi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham?"

Well I can't teach you to bend it like Beckham, but I can give you an Aloo Gobi recipe. All you need are about six ingredients that you probably don't have in the house.

So I took my 15-year-old daughter, home on winter break, to my favorite multi-ethnic produce store, with the dirt lot and the hand-lettered sign. It specializes in Mexican, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Southeast Asian food. Turmeric, check. Thai green chilis, of course. Garam masala, duh. Fresh cilantro in February? No problem. The rest I had at home.

Whereupon, as I began preparing my Aloo Gobi, I commenced trying to impress my daughter with 70's music. The great thing about YouTube is that it suggests songs based on the one you last played. Three Dog Night's "Pieces of April" and "Easy to Be Hard" led to the Zombies, "Tell Her No," "She's Not There," and "Time of the Season." Then Buffalo Springfield, Tommy James and the Shondells, Jefferson Airplane, Gordon Lightfoot, Billy Preston, Marshall Tucker .... Hey! Where did my daughter go?!

She's missing out on some damn fine Aloo Gobi.

Adapted from the video at the end of the film "Bend It Like Beckham"

* 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used olive)

* 1 large yellow onion, diced

* 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

* 2 small green chilies, diced very fine (I used Thai green chilis; or use one Serrano chili or one teaspoon chili powder). These proportions will make it medium spicy/spicy.

* 1 large cauliflower, leaves removed and cut into florets

* 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into even pieces

* 1 large can diced tomatoes (I used San Marzano)

* fresh ginger, size of a thumb, peeled and grated or chopped fine

* 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped fine

* 1 TSP black mustard seeds

* 1 TSP cumin or cumin seeds

* 2 TSP turmeric

* 1 TSP salt

* 2 TSP garam masala

1. Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan.

2. Add the chopped onion and black mustard seeds and cumin to the oil.

3. Stir together and cook until onions become creamy, golden, and translucent.

4. Add chopped cilantro, turmeric, and salt.

5. Add chopped chillis. Stir tomatoes into onion mixture.

6. Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly.

7. Add potatoes and cauliflower to the sauce plus a few tablespoons of water (ensuring that the mixture doesn't stick to the saucepan).

8. Ensure that the potatoes and cauliflower are coated with the curry sauce.

9. Cover and allow to simmer for twenty minutes (or until potatoes are cooked).

10. Add two teaspoons of Garam Masala and stir.

Mamas and the Papas, Todd Rundgren, Bill Withers ... I think they would all love this Aloo Gobi.

And Ravi Shankar? For sure.

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard and Walker, P.C., a law firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation.

He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine.

He can be reached at: nroumel @nachtlaw.com

Published: Thu, Feb 23, 2012

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